Monday, June 26, 2017

Moving dressers and such

 Well here we are...on Monday again.  Le sigh.

I for one, could have used another weekend, rather than a Monday, how about you?  Last week, I shared some soothing bedroom changes I had made over the last few years (and why) and couldn't have needed that little soothing space more over the weekend.  The dearest thing, was that various children (well, teenagers, not children) all seemed to make their way in for cuddles and cozy mom time at some point.  "If you cozy it, they will come," I always say.

I hadn't planned a blog post today, as I've got some very heavy-hitting-topic posts planned this week, from my heart, (on blogging and kids on social media) but pre-posting jitters forced me to add a lighthearted one.  (I can't believe a near decade of blogging, and I still get a bit jittery wondering how my words will be received when I speak on something of the heart. The consolation is that I'm not alone in this, I know!) Anyhow, on Friday morning, I enlisted the strong arms of my favorite teen boys to move this Ikea dresser from our closet, into our bedroom.  (Our closet is attached to our master bath, in that you must walk through the master bath to get into the closet.  It's odd and normally I don't mind but I have long wanted a place for a lamp and a way to move my jewelry.)

One evening last week (post, bedroom-post, of course, because that's life with Sasha) it occurred to me that moving this dresser here would be delightful!  I was thrilled to prove my own self right, and even more thrilled to have an agreeable husband, and triply thrilled to have teen muscle at my ready disposal. 

I gathered some favorite items from around the house-a jewelry box my husband gave me, special artwork, a gray glassy baby candle holder, which was a present from my husband. (and if you don't know about glassy babies, you must go look.  They are a handmade Pacific NW thing and so beautiful! Especially when lit, as each one burns with a unique color. I collect them, and have three, all gifts from people I love.)  I am really loving the addition of a pretty surface, as well as the evening lamp in this room.  It makes reading in bed so inviting. 

I would also like to say that hanging your hats as both décor and functionality is a great way to store them.  I love both of these straw hats and they work perfectly on this little side wall.  (I used some small, clear, 3M hangers for them so when I take one off to wear, the hook blends into the wall fairly well.)
(I hope you note the bathroom products on the counters... real life aspect. Ha!)

Next up, this week, my answer to the question that I get asked quite a bit... "Is blogging right for me?" I explained more fully my history with blogging, including why I stepped away from the bulk of public social media for a time.  I hope it's helpful!  Then we will round out the week talking about kids and social media. Yikes!! 

I am preparing to start a small series on my "ten item wardrobe" thoughts, now a year after employing this wardrobe mindset!  I hope it's helpful, and I hope to begin that in July for those of you who are interested in my take on that.  (It has been the best thing ever, by the way.)


Friday, June 23, 2017

Photo organization

I've been getting some sweet feedback over a photo I recently posted on my Instagram feed (which is now public, by the way- @sashabrodeur) on how to organize your hard copy photographs.

I wanted to share this great idea here because it's something we could all benefit from taking a couple short hours out of our lives to do.  My boss from my old organizing job gave me this idea/tip and it's been one of my very favorite take-aways from that job! (Thank you, Julie!!)  I even organized all of my mom's photos for her. (We moved a lot when I was a kid so I actually organized her photos by city which was fun and worked well.)

This clear case (almost like a small suitcase) was found at Michaels (DO use your coupon on this!) and contains many small photo sized boxes within.  Each snap closed and hold far more photographs than you imagine they will hold.

I organized mine into piles that made sense to me, and then I tucked each pile into one of the small boxes, labeled each of them, and filed them into the larger case.  The entire project cost me $20 and about two hours of my time.  The best part about having all of our family photos in one spot, is that when I need something for a (last minute) kid project, (who's with me on this?)  I can simply pull their box out, flip through it and get what I need.  The kids love this system as well and I was behind (as most people are) on putting photos into albums.  Nowadays, most of the photos I take tend to get put into a Shutterfly photo book, so this solved all the back log of photographs. As I organized these, I also took the time to quickly purge the ones with closed eyes, blurry images or unflattering angles that nobody would really want, I went. 

Our larger sized images went into a thin paper box that I've had for years and I stack that under this photo box in our hall closet.

Happy Organizing!



Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Hobby-driven decor

I have spoken here, many times, about downsizing "stuff" and how we've been making that a practical realization in our own home, over the past few years.  I veer toward minimalism in my heart and I've spent the past three years contemplating what we really need, want and like, and then deleting, over adding.  I had wanted to create a video tour showing where we made practical cuts while editing our belongings but the truth is, that would be a very long video and I've never figured out just where to begin approaching a topic so extensive.  I guess I more or less adopted the idea that we would only keep that which we use regularly and sell or donate the rest... if you're looking to downsize too much accumulation, that's a fantastic place to start.

One thing I've noticed, with all of the deleting of accumulated décor, is what I really tend to like. I tend to decorate with things that are of personal interest to me, and because of that, they have inspired my home colors, textures and style.  I love photography, so I have a vintage camera collection that I adore and it graces our bookshelves.  We also developed a love of kayaking and spending time near the ocean because of where we live.  We kayak regularly on the lake that is only about two minutes from our home, and I've been slowly curating a small displayed collection of antique wooden oars and paddles. (Painted a creamy white shade, of course!) I haven't shared many of these changes here on the blog for a while, and thought it might be a fun addition to the posts I've been working on. (I realized the other day, it may look like a much different home in ways, to some of you who are long time readers)

Blue is my very favorite color as so many of you know.  I'm not certain I could live away from the coast and the color blue feels seasonless to me which I like in decorating, because I really don't have any desire to completely redecorate an entire home around a season.  (Been there, done that, wrote the blogs, and it's exhausting.)  I now only want things that can be out and enjoyed year-round, and if they get moved around into new places within our home, it becomes a fun shuffle of change.  Personally, I enjoy changing some of our artwork with the season and often switch out a couple of throw pillow covers for different weather- like using a couple of sweater textured, creamy covers instead of the jute trimmed ones when fall arrives, etc. 

Overall, I've settled into a signature look that works throughout our home.  Each space is calm with notes of blues, grays, white and such.  Years ago, I heard a designer speak and she said that you'd know your signature style when nothing jarred against each other.  By that, she recommended placing all your paint, fabric swatches, hardware and elements into a pile and pulling out anything that jarred the look and didn't belong, and then removing it from your space. (Obviously if you're a color lover or have an eclectic style this isn't your method.) That spoke to me and has always stayed in my mind as I've chosen various décor.  It has all fallen into place with regular sorting, purging, planning, and identifying the objects and hobbies that inspire me.  I am excited to work white or blue moon pumpkins into the existing décor in the fall and add fresh evergreens in winter, while not having a closet crammed with décor-on-hold for the next season or "just in case."

If you're trying to figure out your signature look, perhaps this encourages you... start with your hobbies and go outward from that starting point.  You may find yourself starting a collection or home colors based on something you love, and find yourself settling in to that look!

Happy Decorating friends,

Monday, June 19, 2017

Marble swirl cookies

 Every so often, I have a cutting room floor post. 

That could be for example, when I take a few photos that aren't sharp or blogging quality.  Or I make a project and don't get photos because I didn't plan on blogging on it.  Or I take a great photo and want to share it, but don't have an entire post to accompany it. 

Today I have all three!

We recently had an end of school BBQ that was super casual, but I wanted to make a sweet treat for all the teens hanging around. These marble swirl cookies could not have been easier to make and took only a few moments. I don't have any step-by-step photos, but after I was finished, I decided that they were too cute not to share.  I could have smacked myself  for not snapping photos along the way. All I did was melt some white chocolate in a bowl. Then dropped in some food coloring paste (I used Wilton brand in purple and teal) with a toothpick.  I swirled the colors around the chocolate just a little, using the same toothpicks.  Then I dipped each cookie into the chocolate, and twisted it slightly, creating this marbled effect as I pulled it out to cool.  I dropped them onto parchment lined cookie sheets and popped them into the fridge for a few minutes to chill.  *Note- Toward the end, the food colors were harder to distinguish so I stirred them in and added a bit more of the purple to create a solid color.  (The kids gobbled them up way too quickly and I'm not even sure they truly appreciated the pretty factor. Ha!)
 I found this (really inexpensive, $3) round vase in my grocery store floral department and felt a little giddy over the price tag.  It was the perfect size for just a few fragrant bedside table blooms.  I have always loved the look of round vases in designer homes but never thought about purchasing one to use in my own home or some reason.  It's not a high quality photo (stolen from my instagram) but I wanted to share because I loved how the round shape sparkled in the light and showed off the flowers, and all for a few dollars!  (Apparently, never overlook inexpensive grocery store finds.)
 Finally.  I probably could come up with an entire post on this if I really thought about it!  This little beauty just graduated 8th grade and (sob!) is now a freshman!  I snapped this on my phone and couldn't love it more!  The twinkle in her eyes...her sweet expression, darling bangs, and the icing on the cake was the antique emerald and pearl necklace that has been passed down from my beloved Grammy to her, which she wore with a long, mint green dress. She was honestly the prettiest girl I saw all evening.  She was in ASB leadership this past year, so she participated in a special poem reading at graduation and I loved seeing her quiet confidence and clear voice.  (See? I could write an entire post.)

Anyway, I needed to share this because I couldn't be prouder of her.  Beauty from the inside out, with this one.


Thursday, June 15, 2017

Creating a Soothing Master Bedroom

You know what they say about change, right?  That it's the only thing you can truly count on!

I feel this so deeply, as we continue to press forward in a journey I never expected, with my daddy being an Alzheimer's patient at such a young age.  It often drains and exhausts me on a physical as well as emotional level.  I've got active teens in the home and sometimes as a mama, I really need a soothing escape to crawl into and hide from the world for just a while.  A space I can go to, with my phone ringer turned and enjoy a soul refresh... Can anyone else relate to that?

When I am overwhelmed, I often create nooks and spaces in my life, calendar, and home, without even realizing I am doing it. I believe it starts from inside, and then my subconscious actions reflect what my heart has been craving or needing.  I tend to think that perhaps our bodies tell us what we are in need of, if we become still and pay attention.  I always joke around with my girlfriends when I feel overwhelmed, and use the phrase, "I'm at capacity!"  It seems like everyone can relate to that and we can't often recover unless we forge ahead with a bit of intentionality. 

Our calm and neutral master bedroom transformation has been a great example of this. And I'd like to stress how little the imperfections matter here, in the real world, where I live.  In fact, that's what this post is mainly about.  At first glance it's very soothing.  But my sheets, shams and quilts aren't the same, and aren't even the same shade of white.  My side tables aren't either.  The wonderful thing, is that it certainly doesn't affect the soothing, restful quality of this space so I'm showing this to inspire you. It doesn't have to be perfect, expensive, or even matching!

  You don't have to spend gobs of money or wait until you can find or make everything just how you want it.  The transformation in both this room (and my heart) occurred slowly, over the last couple of years.  I used to have more color in this room as many of you long-time readers may remember, but I craved the peace and tranquility of a boutique hotel room and longed for textures to define the room's personality.  Fresh bedding, washed weekly, with a simple color-scheme and spa-like feel have done wonders to make this my own personal haven and I'm in a season of life where I very much need that available to me.

My husband helped me make this headboard inexpensively because a new one wasn't in the budget, and I honestly love everything about it! (The DIY is here)  The lamps are a few years old, from Target and are great for reading in bed.  Fresh garden clippings on each bedside add interest, though I prefer flowers most of the time. I love turning my head on the pillow in the morning and seeing a pretty bloom first thing. 

A long pillow that pulls soft color from the walls down, was made by me with simple straight seams and stuffing. It was a quick project because I couldn't find anything in a store that I liked.  I love the subtle fabric texture.  The mixed metal mirror was in our guest room but found a new home above our bed and I love it there.  The white wood sign was stenciled by me and was a project that took very little time. None of the bedding matches or was expensive yet it is all neutral and works together in a calming way.  The soft blanket at the bottom works to add some texture and not pictured at the foot of the bed, is a white sheepskin rug that moves around our home, but makes me smile in the middle of the night if I must get out of bed and cross it with my bare toes.

I also enjoy diffusing restful oils in this room, like lavender, as well as spraying my pillow with lavender pillow spray each night before bed.  I burn candles and though we do have a television in this room, it points away from the bed, and into the small nook off the end of the room where a loveseat is placed.  I also have a gray glassy baby candle holder, which was  present from my husband. I love keeping our wedding photo in our bedroom as well. 

Things that I've found that create a tranquil bedroom are;
soft textures
a warm blanket or throw at the end of a bed for naps
soothing scents
a clean space with minimal or no clutter
favorite candles
white noise machines
a good book or journal
flowers, fresh greens or a low maintenance plant
simple wall hangings
a soothing wall color (ours is Revere Pewter)
time spent praying or meditating

Things that I've found don't create a tranquil bedroom are;
clutter on flat surfaces
too many things on the walls
jarring wall colors
desks used for work
workout equipment

I hope this inspires you to create a soothing master bedroom for yourself.  It's so lovely to  have a quiet and calm place in your home to hide in when the occasion calls for it. 


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Easy Italian Soda Bar

My kids, especially my daughter, love Italian sodas.  I think their sweet daddy is responsible for this.  In fact, I remember very distinctly, a date with him back when he was my brand new boyfriend, when I admitted to never having tried an Italian cream soda.  He was shocked, and bundled me into his truck and hit the first drive in coffee shop we came to.  He ordered me a strawberry Italian cream soda with whipped cream on top.  I think I realized then, that he was always going to give me to good stuff in life.  (And I was so right.) 

So when it came to making Ava's 8th grade graduation plans, I decided I wanted to treat her (and whatever other teens we have hanging around) to a little Italian soda bar this weekend.  It turned out so cute that I decide to share here in case you were stuck on a unique beverage idea for kiddos, beyond sodas.  (And actually, I know quite a lot of adults, like my man, that will dig this idea as well!)

It was really easy to polish this up a bit for my personal hosting style, and took very little time to take things an extra step, making it all cute. I love when things look like you cared enough to go to some trouble or effort, but really didn't because they couldn't have been easier!  (This is that sweet and easy even if you left the labels on and placed things on a table.) 

For ours, I removed the labels from unopened syrup bottles by soaking them briefly and then scraping them off with a small plastic scraper I've had for years.  (It came with a pampered chef stone and I've used it for everything under the sun.)   (The labels came off very easily but if you have trouble with any sticky residue, you can always hit it with a shot of Pam nonstick spray and a souring pad, then wash with a soapy sponge and it will be label-free.)  I finished the bottles off with a white paint pen, and hand-lettered the flavors onto them.  I set everything up on our outside table, and it's a great self-serve treat which kids of all ages seem to love.    

What you'll want to assemble in order to create this festive and cute soda bar, are the following:
Striped straws & Clear drinking cups
Instructions (I used a little sandwich-style chalk board but you could easily type and post them.)
The ingredients;
Ice, flavored syrups, club soda and cream.
(You could also add a can of whipped cream for fun.)

The nice thing, is that you can do as many or few of the syrups as you want, and you can customize this little bar idea however works best for you and your crowd.  The kids get to mix flavors and enjoy different combinations.  (You could also post a few combinations for them to try.) (I was able to get my syrup pumps at the grocery store alongside the syrup selection but you may have more luck finding yours on Amazon.)

Enjoy & Happy sipping!


Friday, May 19, 2017

Growing anyway...

Something struck me today, as I worked outside in my beautiful yard.  Well, a couple of things actually, because when I ever have been known to make just one point?

 Things we plant in faith and then forget about... aren't actually forgotten.  Sometimes they simply bloom later than we expect, and completely surprise us in our forgetfulness.  I planted several peony plants over the past years.  I have moved so many things around as I've worked, to create harmony in our flower beds.  This year I noticed that not one, but two, brand new peony plants emerged in a previously rather bare space.  I think I planted one last year but it never showed itself, and I assumed it was dead... but it wasn't!  It spoke to me, because I've been waiting for specific things that have been planted in faith, for what seems like, too long...  It feels like the wait has taken forever, and sometimes I even forget what or why I'm waiting for it.  But God doesn't.  And He doesn't abandon me up here on the surface, even while He is busy cultivating private spaces in my life and heart that haven't bloomed yet.  He is still working in me deeply, preparing just the right season to bring them about.  

Things often still grow where we don't plant them.  Last year, I had two pots filled to the brim with pansies.  I made little salad garden containers and loved how they looked, tucked alongside my lettuces.  (My family wouldn't eat them in a salad but that's okay.) Anyway, about a week ago, I realized that there were little purple pansies growing in between all the pavers around our back patio. There is just the tiniest sliver of space there, perhaps wide enough to place a quarter or two, but somehow, they had just enough space to grow and bloom.  Sometimes, I'm guilty of squeezing about fifty cents worth of time with God into my life. A sliver in between the life chaos. I give Him only a small space, yet He gives me favor and allows things to flower in my life that wouldn't be there without His presence. Because He never gives up on His ultimate plan for my good and He never stops pursuing me, even if I haven't planted anything in faith. He will have His way in me.   

I, a mere human girl, took a builder grade, mostly sub-par backyard with nothing pretty but some patchy grass and wild clover, and have been working slowly, steadily, each spring and summer for the last 14 years, to create something with a plan, rhythm and structure.  As my gaze sweeps over the gently bending grass in the setting sun, I wonder at how much more God works steadily in our lives. He shields us, provides for us, protects us, guides us and shapes us into a thing of true beauty and precious worth.  My yard is beautiful in my eyes, not because it's perfect, but because I remember what it looked like a decade ago. I see how far it's come.  I also see the potential it still has.  Yes, I see the weeds and imperfections but because I've worked so closely to bring beauty from it, and I know my ultimate plan, and know the bounds of my energy, it's beautiful to me, just as it is- a work in progress. 

God too, sees our imperfections and sins and the weeds of our life in wrong choices, and sees us as beautiful creations with potential for even more, not because of what we have to offer, but because He knows His plan, and knows His power and what He can do in our lives. Do you get the sweetness of this? My cracked heart soaks this up like healing balm.  He doesn't give up... He pursues... He has a plan... He remembers and I'm in awe of Him.   



Thursday, April 27, 2017

Operation Soul Feeding

 I decided to cheat a little, for today's blog post, and use my recent Instagram photos.  And when I was watermarking them, I realized something. The common theme for them lately seems to be my feet (I'm truly sorry) flowers and food.  Thankfully not all together. 
(But for real.  I'll stop with the feet.  I can't promise the same for the flowers and food though okay?)
 I'm planning on feeding my soul this weekend and I wondered if anyone else out there might need some reminders to do this as well?  I started operation soul feeding this afternoon in fact.  I just wrapped up my last day with my beloved boss before embarking on 30 hours of training to become my husband's office professional next week!  I'm so looking forward to this new adventure with my very best friend, Adrain.  And learning something new.  And pushing myself and my brain as well as my organizational skills. 

But... it's been a rough month with spring break, track, head colds, Easter hosting, all the family birthdays, seeing my dad and all of the issues with that, family dynamics, teenage issues and demands, too many obligations and opening my home to so many, putting all of the above first. (Normally putting others first is the best thing you can do, but I realized that clumping all the above into one month- even one week for much of it- didn't leave any time at all for refreshing and I did not refresh!) 

As women, we all do this to ourselves.  Truthfully, even when we are busy, we can cope as long as we have right priorities and such... and I'm confessing that though I tried, I failed enough that it mattered. Ever been there?  I made zero of the right kind of soul feeding time in April as well, and I landed on the front of this past week, way behind in every way.  So I faced facts this morning and regrouped somewhat. Luckily, 41 years have taught me that simple things can refresh our weary souls in deep ways. I made a list of all the things I am doing today and through the weekend for myself even if it puts something on those around me, because it's okay to do that sometimes. (I forget that with busy teens who like to oppose my suggestions of helping out sometimes.  Ha!) 

Often, doing things for yourself (or not doing something) gives you the energy and desire to then pour out into others, and that's what it's all about. Finding that sweet balance.  Firstly, finding time to pray and course correct my weary heart is always key...before I even stepped out of bed this morning, I spent nearly a half hour praying my heart out about some heavy issues.  I know I'm losing my grip when this verse makes me weep, "Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." Matt 11:28

Do you need this reminder too?  Stop and get some instant rest by taking the burdens and placing them where they belong. 

Operation Soul Feeding:

Iced coffee with my favorite almond coconut milk blend
Fresh flowers in every room
Being outside in my garden, or watching the clouds (seriously do this with me)
Memorizing some comforting bible verses (I have one beside my bed)
Giving myself cute manicures and pedicures (OPI bubble bath is my fave)
Lighting my favorite candle nightly (Capri Blue Volcano)
Sipping an icy drink (or glass of wine)
Digging in to my new She Reads Truth bible (I got the gray linen. Eeep!!)
Whipping up fresh salsa and turning the meat over to my man and his BBQ
Sleeping late and not feeling guilty
Wearing my favorite perfume that smells like blood oranges
Holding my friend's new baby and breathing in deeply
Turning my phone off for an entire day (Sunday, I'm coming for ya!)
Not answering text messages right away, or even in a timely manner (personal goal)
Turning on the twinkle lights and watching La La Land with Ava and Life in Pieces with Adrain
Not baking cookies and making sure teenagers get fed constantly, because they can handle that
Working hard at working out (I want sore muscles)
Letting someone else do the dishes (I'm a get it done kind of girl and clean as I go girl)
Not making our bed and feeling no guilt
Really good lotion after I've stepped out of the shower (Coconut is always my favorite)
Eating really healthy
Reading a new magazine (Sunset has a great new issue out that was a delight!)
Wearing a pretty color (I tend to wear black too much)
Trying a new hairstyle- but only if I feel like it

So talk to me.  Are you also weary or overwhelmed dear one?  What soul feeding are you going to start alongside me, today?  Or, do you have experience in this and feel able to offer some words of encouragement to share with those of us who are weary and striving to find our sweet balance again?  


Friday, April 14, 2017

In which I take far too many photos of my flowers...

 Happy Good Friday dear ones. 

I'm sick and need to be resting because our weekend to come is full, so bear with me while I make this rather quick.  I shared in my previous post and video, that I was still trying to decide on my flowers for our Seder dinner and Easter table.  In the end, I came home with tall showy flowers that would never work in a real life dinner setting because you'd never be able to see those across from you, but they smelled amazing and were the exact bouquet my heart leapt at so I brought them home anyway.  We've enjoyed them on our kitchen table the last few days but this morning as I was setting the table, I scooted them over to our side table and that inspired me to quickly tweak a few other things, as it often does.  (grin)

I thought I'd share some photos I snapped while in process, setting the table, and figuring things out.  (My previous post contains links to the nails I've used in the place settings.)

 I wasn't sure how long I wanted to leave the kraft paper menu up... but once I placed the huge jar of flowers on this side table, I had an idea for the weekend...  I grabbed my roll of white paper and a charcoal pencil and quickly scribbled something new for the weekend's festivities... I loved the simplicity of "It is finished." 

I had to share this photo really quickly before I sign off.  My man and I have spent a crazy amount of time at track meets this year and I made him take a photo this week.  His face kind of says it all... we sure do love our kiddo but we are starting to feel like we live in sport stadiums! Ha!  We're gearing up for another rainy out of town meet on Saturday and then anticipating Easter Sunday with more family.  This will be our first official holiday without my Daddy in my home, sitting at my table.  We will be seeing him at the Alzheimer's home but it's such a new stage and if I think about it too much I cry.  Feels so off to me and makes me happy our weekend is to be so busy.  I think God kind of knew that I needed to stay on the go. Isn't He amazing... He always knows just what we need, even we have no clue. 

I hope you all have a lovely holiday and enjoy time with your loved ones. Happy Easter.